Outcry Follows Gang Rape In Brazil, Raising Alarms About Sexual Violence

Brazilians protest in front of the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro on Friday against an alleged gang rape that police say they are investigating. (AFP/Getty Images)
Brazilians protest in front of the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro on Friday against an alleged gang rape that police say they are investigating. (AFP/Getty Images)

A 16-year-old girl has reportedly been raped by at least 30 men in Rio de Janeiro. Last weekend's incident gained attention after a video began circulating online.

"The clip showed an undressed, unconscious woman lying on a bare mattress," Latin America News Dispatch reports. "She was being filmed by two men, both fully dressed, who took turns manhandling and mocking her."

No one has been arrested, police said on Friday, according to CNN, though officials said four people had been identified — "including one man who appeared in the video, the girl's boyfriend and two people who were heard on the video."

The BBC says activists are calling for protests and have started an online campaign against "a culture of rape" in the country.

Images of the alleged attack on social media "racked up more than 550 likes and a deluge of replies with smiley faces and thumbs-up," The Globe and Mail reports. "Commenters using vulgar language celebrated the damage apparently inflicted on the girl's genitalia and said she had no doubt 'been asking for it.' "

Vanessa Dios, a researcher at the Brasília-based feminist institute Anis, told the Latin America News Dispatch:

"The day-to-day culture of codifying women's bodies persists in Brazil. They are constantly given signals to what constitutes acceptable behavior. Among men, the notion that they are allowed to touch and grab women without permission endures."

Brazil's interim president said he would work with police to better address violence against women, the CBC says. The Canadian broadcaster notes that Michel Temer was criticized for not including women or black Brazilians in his recently formed cabinet.

The Globe and Mail reports on other actions that members of the government have been criticized for:

"Hours before news of this case broke, the Brazilian Education Minister Mendonca Filho held a high-profile meeting with Alexandre Frota, an actor and reality television star who has repeatedly said he would have no qualms about having sex with a woman who did not consent.

"Late last year, Jair Bolsonaro, a member of the lower house of Congress, was ordered by a court to pay the equivalent of $3,500 in damages to Maria do Rosario, another member, after he said during a debate in the house, 'I wouldn't even rape you because you don't deserve it.' "

The Brazilian Forum for Public Security says 47,636 rapes were reported in 2014, according to the BBC. The forum estimates that only 35 percent of rape cases are reported.

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